SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt Enjoys Strong Viewership Success in Early 2023
Program Continues to Draw Larger Audiences in Younger Demos Than Late-Night Talk Shows
After seven years and more than 1,500 shows, Scott Van Pelt isn’t tired yet.
The host of ESPN’s late-night SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt sometimes opens his program by telling viewers it’s late, but he’s not tired yet. And as they have since the show launched in 2015, viewers continue to respond – the program is off to a strong start in 2023 and had its most-viewed episode ever earlier this year.
The SVP SportsCenter was designed to be a different version of ESPN’s signature news and information program, presenting the world of sports as seen through Van Pelt’s unique perspective and showcasing his passion for sports, with his self-deprecating wit and disposition toward celebrating stars and storylines.
And while interviews, highlights and results of the night’s games are still an integral part of the show, so are Van Pelt’s unique features, including his “One Big Thing” commentary, “The Best Thing I Saw Today” that opens the show and the ever-popular “Bad Beats” segment with his friend “Stanford” Steve Coughlin.
The show has resonated, especially among younger viewers. So far in 2023, the program is averaging 903,000 total viewers, a 45 percent increase over the same date range in 2022. It is ESPN’s most-viewed studio show during the NFL season.
On average since August of 2022, SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt has drawn larger audiences among younger demographics than other late-night talk shows on both broadcast and cable. And it’s still doing so – at the end of February, SVP ranked first in Persons 18-49 (358K average viewers), Males 18-49 (268K), Persons 18-34 (131K) and Males 18-34 (96K).
The program also continues to be the place for sports fans to go after big games – following ESPN Monday Night Football on Jan. 2 this year, the program attracted 5.17 million total viewers, it’s largest audience ever. During January, the show also drew large audiences following the College Football Playoffs and after ESPN’s NFL Wild Card telecast.
“We’re very, very proud of what we have done,” said Van Pelt. “But we did it together – with you, the viewers.
“We are happy to be a place sports fans still gather to be with one of their own after big games. Sincere gratitude for staying up with us into the wee hours. Might be late, but I’m not tired yet.”
Some SVP milestones and highlights
- May 12, 2015 – Announcement made at ESPN UpFront about Scott Van Pelt signing new contract and the coming SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt program.
- 7, 2015 — First episode aired following ESPN’s telecast of a college football game between Ohio State and Virginia Tech.
- October, 2019 – During the World Cup, with limited access to match highlights, SVP invited viewers to have their children send in drawings of soccer players to use with match recaps, saying “We’re going to need kids to get their crayons out.”
- March 11, 2020 – Due to Covid-19, the NBA season was suspended prior to a game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz. Van Pelt’s show came on early after the game was canceled and navigated the breaking news situation as it developed over several hours.
- March-April, 2020 – When sports were shut down during the pandemic, SVP and team received widespread praise for the “Senior Night” initiative, recognizing high school and college senior athletes who didn’t get to finish their careers.
- August, 2020 — Show moves from ESPN headquarters in Connecticut to Washington, D.C., allowing Van Pelt to return to his home area.
- January, 2021 – the popular “Bad Beats” segment spins off into new monthly show with SVP and Stanford Steve.
- 2021 — SVP named “National Sportscaster of the Year” by NSMA (National Sports Media Association).
- 2, 2023 – After the NFL suspended the ESPN Monday Night Football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills due to Bills’ player Damar Hamlin suffering cardiac arrest on the field, Van Pelt’s show again came on early and provided viewers with news and updates about what had happened.
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